Every vehicle since 1996 has featured the standardized OBD II diagnostics port, at least here in the US. This port offers amazing functionality that can improve your life as a home mechanic significantly. But other than the mechanic or DIYer, the port didn’t really serve the regular user. The Automatic app aims to change that.
The Automatic app has been available for iOS for a while now, but has finally come to Android. Paired with the Automatic Link (a generic OBD II Bluetooth dongle in a fancy casing), this app will collect data from your car and smartphone and will aim to help you drive better. Whenever you brake too hard, accelerate too fast, or go over 70 MPH, it beeps and tells you. And before anyone mentions it, yes you can turn off the speeding warning separately. But all of this helps you drive more efficiently and save gas, with claims of being able to save hundreds of dollars a year by adjusting your driving style.
Using this data, the app gives you a driving score showing you your efficiency. It also features a trip logger, a check engine light code scanner, and it will remember where you parked. It’s a pretty impressive feature set that won’t particularly appeal to the mechanically inclined, but can help regular people drive better.
However, there is a catch. You need to buy the Automatic Link for $100, or else the app won’t work. As someone who has been using a $15 generic OBD II Bluetooth dongle with the (incredibly powerful) Torque app for monitoring such things, that’s far too steep a price for a proprietary device. In general, the generic dongle and Torque app combination can do almost anything, but it’s nowhere near as simple and user friendly as the Automatic app is for simple things like tracking efficiency. But if you like to tinker, get Torque.
It’s still nice that this app has been released on Android, even if it’s something I could never justify buying due to its overpriced and proprietary nature. It’s great for regular people who don’t need a full live data scanner, instead just wanting some feedback on driving and saving fuel. Hit the widget to download the app, where you can buy the dongle, and watch the video for a demonstration of how it works. And car guys, what do you think of Automatic?